All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Publication Date: August 9th 2016


A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.

As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It’s safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.

By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy’s family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood’s All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.




My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once in a while as a reader you come across a novel that is so impactful you have no choice but to take a pause. This year All The Ugly and Wonderful Things is that novel. It’s without a doubt an incredibly thought provoking read so unconventional and outstanding in it’s delivery, it raises questions that result in uncomfortable answers.

Had it not been at the urging of some friends reviews, I must admit, it’s not a novel I would have been brave enough to read. The thought of a mid twenties “Hero” and a barely teenage heroine left an unpleasantness that had much to be desired.

Much to my surprise, stripped of age, it’s a story of an innocent romance borne in pain and neglect. It’s a story of soul recognising soul, where the threat of discovery is diminished by weight of the emotions and longing involved.

It’s a difficult subject matter and as appalling as it may seem at times, it makes for difficult albeit addictive reading. It’s confrontational, tragic and fraught with tension and when it came to the truth, I wanted nothing more than a happy ending for characters that deserved a life of love and happiness.


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